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Secret UK Network Hunts GPS Jammers

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the hunt-you-down dept.

Crime 228

garymortimer writes "A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis. From the article: 'Government-funded trials involving the police have revealed more than a hundred incidents of GPS jammer use in the UK. The Sentinel project, which has been running since January 2011, was designed to measure GPS jamming on UK roads. The project, run by GPS-tracking company Chronos Technology, picked up the illegal jamming incidents via four GPS sensors in trials lasting from two to six months per location.'"

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228 comments

Not that much of a stretch, really... (2)

gatorBYTE (93755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134329)

When you consider that a criminal will also monitor police radios as well.

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134443)

When you consider that a criminal will also monitor police radios as well.

UK
Google TETRA, or Terrestrial Trunked Radio..
Ain't that easy anymore....

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134743)

Listening to police radio isn't something they can track.

Broadcasting a signal on GPS frequencies...this seems stupid even by criminal standards. It's just asking to be stopped/searched (assuming the police get detectors, which they probably will after this report).

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135281)

But for most things the criminals would need jammers for (like obstructing GPS tracking of valuable goods), they're not going to be using a whole lot of broadcasting power. Your detector is likely to only blip when the jammer is within 20ft or so. So unless you're right there with a detector when it goes by, it's still not going to be something you can home in on.

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135469)

Broadcasting a signal on GPS frequencies...this seems stupid even by criminal standards. It's just asking to be stopped/searched (assuming the police get detectors, which they probably will after this report).

You make the assumption that this is something done by common criminals that can be caught. This is the UK we are talking about - the more likely rational is that the queen is having them jammed to spur uptake of Galileo based consumer devices and prevent people from ordering things from overseas while simultaneous helping justify the expenditure of a largely military network filling a niche already covered by an "ally" whose media the country has been infiltrating and skewing to generate an unproductive populace for over half a century. The still want their colonies back after-all.

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (2, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135567)

You are truly delusional.

The one part of that that makes any rational sense is the bit about the UK wanting a non-US GPS system but you have the reasoning all wrong. The UK wants a non-US system because if they are tied into the US system the US can charge anything for it. Sure the US hasn't charged yet AFAIK but they could do the future.

You always have multiple suppliers, it's a basic principle of not getting ripped off.

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (2)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135575)

Maybe they can borrow the BBC's television detector vans to help find them.

Re:Not that much of a stretch, really... (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135259)

"Criminals" aren't attempting anything.

Random kids who wonder about signal jamming are looking up the plans online and testing out just how easy it is to do.

at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134333)

Why block GPS? What do criminals gain from it? Genuine Queston.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Informative)

Tarmas (954439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134347)

FTFA:

"People illegally jam GPS for a number of reasons, Curry told the audience at the conference at the National Physical Laboratory. These include evasion of company-vehicle or covert tracking, and stealing high-value vehicles."

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134533)

But that's just stupid! You don't have to invest in a GPS jammer, which is illegal probably in most places too. You can just wrap your whole care in tinfoil. TA-DA!

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134547)

evasion of company-vehicle or covert tracking

Yeah there is a scandal here in Australia at the moment with a trucking company disabling speed limiters. Corrupting GPS trace information would be the other half of the picture.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134361)

Asking the question doesn't make you sound stupid. Not thinking the answer might be in the article does. :)

People illegally jam GPS for a number of reasons, Curry told the audience at the conference at the National Physical Laboratory. These include evasion of company-vehicle or covert tracking, and stealing high-value vehicles.

Remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people!

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134517)

Asking the question doesn't make you sound stupid. Not thinking the answer might be in the article does. :)

I wondered about the same thing and found it stupid that the summary didn't mention it. You shouldn't have to read the article to get that information.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134659)

I wondered about the same thing and found it stupid that the summary didn't mention it. You shouldn't have to read the article to get that information.

You shouldn't even have to read the summary. Slashdot should just telepathically transmit the information directly into your brain.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135375)

Hmm, I think the signal's being jammed...

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134881)

What do you mean, "the article"? What's that?

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135589)

Saved time by not reading the article, and gets the answer in his inbox. Seems pretty smart to me.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134363)

Redirect a GPS equipped armored car to your secret criminal location and land it safely. Just like the Iranians did with the drone.

In old movies, criminals used fake "Detour" signs to re-route trucks carrying loot. Criminals are just getting high-tech savvy.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Interesting)

Duncan Booth (869800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134447)

Possible but unlikely. I think at the moment they are just jamming the GPS signal which is really easy to do. To redirect you to another location they have to provide fake signals that your receiver will think are real. You can do that but it requires more sophisticated equipment. New Scientist had an article about GPS jamming last year and one of the more interesting things they suggested was that if you could distort the GPS instead of just jamming it you could cause mains blackouts over large areas of the US. Apparently US power stations use GPS as the reference time signal to ensure that the different power stations keep their generators in phase, so knock a few of them half a cycle out of phase and the entire network could come down.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (3, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134625)

.... because a national power grid would rely entirely on a wireless signal and have no redundancy whatsoever

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134747)

It is much cheaper that way.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134893)

You only have to check the frequency stability at your socket to set of the hinky meter with statements like "the grid uses GPS for critical timing". We had the grid *long* before GPS and it worked fine. In fact i can't see anything useful that GPS would provide, since you need to PLL to the local grid anyway. Which will have its own local drifts etc. Considering that it takes mins and hours for generators to ramp up or down, i simply can't see what useful thing GPS is doing here.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135417)

I'm a Protection Engineer. We have GPS at every substation in order to timestamp, down to the millisecond, faults. Helps us determine where the fault started, who tripped first, etc. It's a protection coordination thing. It's also required for Synchrophasors, which is a way to monitor power flows, system stability, and system disturbances at a very fine level. When you have several readings coming in from geographically spread out locations, all with the same down-to-the-millisecond timestamp, you can get a good feel on how the transmission grid is performing.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135505)

Very interesting. I don't dispute GPS as an accurate global clock, and nowdays a very cheap one. Makes sense that it would be very useful for logging and monitoring.

However this still implies that no GPS does not mean no Grid as many seem to claim.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (3, Informative)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135423)

I'm far from an expert on power distribution, but doing some work with GPS some years a potential client contacted me about a custom IRIG-B timing signal generator using GPS as the clock reference. The project didn't go ahead but from my understanding during initial discussions you're correct about a PLL type sync required to the local grid and that it takes time to adjust a generator's frequency. Where GPS timing comes into play are for grids that aren't normally connected so they can re-route power in case of outages and have it perfectly in phase when it comes online without the delays you mention.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135051)

that's a whole lot of bullshit right there.

i know wikipedia is not a reliable source for any argumentation, but here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchroscope [wikipedia.org]

this is what's in use on power grids all over the world since the concept of interconnected generators was invented.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135593)

I think you might have just broken some of your countries anti-terrorism laws by telling us that.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Funny)

queBurro (1499731) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134501)

[Meaconing](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaconing) the GPS signal using the encoder, (and...) sending the British frigate HMS Devonshire off-course in the South China Sea

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Funny)

oobayly (1056050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134603)

I remember this being in the news, it nearly started a war. Luckily some English chap and a Chinese bird managed to stop Rupert Murdock before it was too late.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135173)

I think the media mogul character was based on a combination of Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell. Both own/owned trashy media empires with delusions of self-importance. Maxwell went, er, missing from his luxury boat (his body later discovered in the sea).

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

RoboRay (735839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135231)

Redirect a GPS equipped armored car to your secret criminal location and land it safely. Just like the Iranians did with the drone.

In old movies, criminals used fake "Detour" signs to re-route trucks carrying loot. Criminals are just getting high-tech savvy.

It's a documented and well-known fact that the Iranians did not use forged GPS or other transmitted data to redirect that drone.

They could have sent up a fake "Detour" sign hanging from a balloon, though.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134369)

Probably most people jam GPS so that organisations cannot spy on their vehicles through trackers, and it has nothing to do with criminality - they just want a bit of privacy while they go about their business in the company vehicle, and don't want someone snooping on them. The simple way to stop this would be to make it illegal to track people in this way, or mandatory for them to have a privacy switch which undetectably turned off the snooper.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135613)

But using someone else's property against their wishes is criminality, though. Just because you agree with it doesn't instantly mean it's fine.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134373)

> Why block GPS? What do criminals gain from it?

Maybe to block trackers on stolen cars, or covert trackers on their own cars ?
To make trailing of themselves by the police more difficult, esp. once the police start to rely to much on GPS, and less on local knowledge, paper maps etc.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134375)

My first guess was that I could see it being done here in the US to block lowjack and other tracking systems when you steal a car.

And RTFM says that and people use it to evade company vehicle tracking systems. I guess that a gps system could be used to record when you drove to fast. Parked in front of someplace unsavory. If I was the company, I would want to know why my vehicle was reporting np signal for so long and why the odometer did not match the GPS. You could get away with it once or twice with saying it was broken. However, with a company vehicle, I think tinfoil sheilding would work better.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134441)

My first guess was that I could see it being done here in the US to block lowjack and other tracking systems when you steal a car.

And RTFM says that and people use it to evade company vehicle tracking systems. I guess that a gps system could be used to record when you drove to fast. Parked in front of someplace unsavory. If I was the company, I would want to know why my vehicle was reporting np signal for so long and why the odometer did not match the GPS. You could get away with it once or twice with saying it was broken. However, with a company vehicle, I think tinfoil sheilding would work better.

My guess is that it is used for "extra" journeys. You know, when you mention that you need a freezer moving and some guy says he will use the works van and do it for £10. They probably have to jam if for the whole journey so the company think its parked up for the evening.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135025)

We don't have odometers. We have mileometers. :)

But on the garlicontinent they have kilometerometers.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134395)

I expect most of it is fraud, using tracked vehicles without them being tracked. There must be some trick to it because presumably the fact that the vehicle was started but no GPS signal was available should be logged. Even insurance companies are starting to use the technology now.

Some people worry about being tracked by the police/security services too.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134641)

the fact that the vehicle was started but no GPS signal was available should be logged

Presumably newer GPS units will be programmed around this, but if your jammer is sending out a signal that says it's the GPS sattelite currently over Cape Town, and it's also reading the signals from the sattelites currently over london, paris and and moscow,it's going to triangulate your position as being somewhere near Egypt or The Congo.
 
Sort of like if you have a multitouch trackpad and put two fingers on there and the mouse averages between the two, and then you put your thumb on there and the mouse moves again to a new center location.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135043)

GPS does not work like that, and never did - it's not triangulating.

Otherwise, sure. There's no reason the vehicle can't have a slightly expanded black box, including at least the odometer data.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134803)

This is precisely the problem: should insurance companies be allowed to track your every movement ?

I am extremely anti-insurance, so my answer is no. I would support jamming GPS devices used to track my whereabouts against my will. That's just an opinion though.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135479)

> extremely anti-insurance

So if I lost an arm in an accident that was your fault, you've got £75k knocking about to pay my compensation ?

Or less extreme, how about £15k if I just broke my arm when hitting your car on my bicycle ?

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134979)

I work for a telemetry company. Our units have a privacy mode the driver can activate when off duty.

GPS jamming is also only really going to hide location, since these units are connected to the vehicle's CANBUS so read engine rpm, wheel speed, crazy acceleration, braking, cornering etc. So when the jamming is removed, it will still report back you drove the company car 500 miles at an average wheel speed of 86mph, with peaks of 112.

Plus its blatantly obvious when the data stream stops due to comms failure.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134411)

s/criminals/people sleeping with the boss's wife? might not want to get tracked.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134477)

Honestly? The LEOs of today, based off of what limited information I have gathered, pale somewhat in comparison with the LEOs of yesteryear. That is to say the quality has dropped a fair amount with regards to the new recruits. Now, it's possible that the quality has remained the same, and it's only with the advent of new technology (cellphone cameras) are we finding out just how poor that quality has been all along...however, there are some limited indicators which suggest it may have been, on average, better at some point in the past.

Investigators who need information spoon-fed to them, troopers who need to be constantly reminded of the laws they are supposed to be upholding...it's pretty bad.

How does this relate to GPS? Well, as I outlined in a post a while back, officers are more reliant on technology today than times past. Mind you, I said reliant, not augmented by. As such, a typical officer cannot be guaranteed to actually memorize the various roads and streets that make up their own town / city, let alone the surrounding towns / cities. So, if you manage to knock out their GPS navigation systems, it's possible that they will not be able to find a route, let alone a quick one, to the scene of the crime nor plot an intercept course to pursue a suspect if he / she is still at large.

If you pair up GPS jammers in concert with radio jammers, you can prevent officers from being notified about a crime in progress, as well as prevent them from finding their way to the scene (thus buying yourself time) is they manage to get around that (by using their cellphones or something more creative). In the event of a chase, officers typically need some level of communication to box-in a suspect (to get a car on either side, one in back, one in front, to force you to slow down). And so on.

Since this is taking place in the UK, it could be a prelude to something 'interesting': rolling with the cliches here, someone planning a bank heist or to swipe the crown jewels. Or not: it could easily be a broken device broadcasting on the wrong channel, with the owner unaware; a broken CB radio in California once overpowered cellphones in the surrounding area, and no criminal intent was found. Or a prank.

 

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134781)

Depends on your definition of "criminal".

GPS navigation is generally a good thing. GPS tracking is a slippery thing, seen by some as an invasion of privacy. The vehicle owner should be entitled to know where their property is, but it is none of their business where I go and what I do during the day. Insurance companies would love to hike premiums based on where you park, where you eat, how many mistresses you entertain, or those brief stops in the seedy part of town.

I cannot speak for the UK, but in some parts of the world, you can get fined for speeding in a rental vehicle - by the rental company, not the police! I would gladly jam a device used to defraud me in such fashion. Traffic management is a police matter, not a private one.

On one hand, GPS tracking can help against theft, or at least facilitate recovery. On the other hand, it opens up a wealth of possibilities for abuse. The dilemma is in deciding if the pros outweigh the cons (no pun intended).

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135315)

Regardless of the privacy issues involved in GPS use, GPS jamming is not an acceptable solution. Your jammer will interfere with other people trying to use GPS unless you're using it away from public roads and flightpaths, in the middle of nowhere. GPS is used in a vast number of ways, many of which are not obvious - elsewhere in the comments somebody pointed out that GPS timing signals are used in regulating power grid frequency for instance.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (3, Interesting)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135565)

Jammers are the only way to prevent this invasion of privacy though. Until laws are mading forcing corporations to back off and stop tracking people, people will use whatever tools are available. If you find the general population start jamming GPS (rather than criminals on some kind of heist) then the only way to realistic defend the GPS is to remove the threat to it - invasion of privacy by corporations. Don't get me wrong, I understand why they want to hijack GPS for their own financial gain, but this is not its purpose, and criminalising people who legitimately want privacy will not protec the GPS.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135127)

makes the modern car theft systems not track you. Lojack still works though.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (4, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135149)

Why block GPS? What do criminals gain from it? Genuine Queston.

What I'm surprised by is the apparent lack of incidents involving criminals using broad-banded jammers to kill ALL radio-based communications in a certain area.

For instance, in the case of police conducting a taskforce drug-sweep through a gang-controlled neighborhood/apartment complex/etc, I could easily imagine the gang's lookouts giving the sign when the cops & SWAT starts to roll into the area, the gangsters then start up the jammers, killing all police radios as well as cell phones, GPS, and anything else depending on radio.

That would remove an absolutely enormous tactical advantage from the police if they are unable to call for assistance or relay information about suspect activities, whereabouts, direction of travel, or even that an officer (or many) has/have been shot and is/are bleeding out in the alley behind the target building while the suspects safely escape.

A mobile version in a criminal's vehicle would also be a great help in losing or ambushing pursuing officers.

As a former amateur radio operator and RF electronics technician, it really wouldn't take much in material costs to rig up a series of car battery powered broadband jammers able to block any radio or GPS use within a couple-block area. You could probably pick up everything one would need to construct such a jamming system for less than a couple hundred dollars (depending on your haggling skills) from the typical amateur radio "hamfest" used electronics buy/sell/trade event and not leave a paper trail.

Now, THAT should send chills down LE spines! Without his/her radio/cellphone, a cop is just another asshole with a gun, and dies just as easily. Hopefully, the uniforms and shiny bits should make them stand out and easily enough sorted from bystanders by the gang's snipers to avoid most collateral casualties.

Hmm. Maybe I should work up some schematic drawings and layouts, and post them online if I get some spare time. I wonder if DHS/ICE would have the drawings taken off the 'net?

Strat

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135519)

Once you get to the point where the national guard or the military is involved, you get a whole new level to deal with. They might be communicating using some Z-waves for example.

Re:at the risk of sounding stupid.. (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135579)

Why block GPS? What do criminals gain from it? Genuine Queston.

Really petty stuff actually. If I'm given a GPS tracked work car I could use a signal jammer to prevent work seeing I'm taking a detour or a long lunch break.

It's not hardened professional bank robbers being called 'criminals' here, it's white-van-man who wants to take his GF shopping with his work van and doesn't want his boss to know about it. These people likely don't know that GPS jamming is criminal.

Is it illegal yet? (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134353)

Don't GPS also have that nice sticker that says it must accept any interference blah blah blah.

Basically, is it illegal currently, because if it isn't, they aren't criminals :D

Re:Is it illegal yet? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134365)

In most countries in Europe and N America, jammers are illegal.

They are also the most wonderful wireless device I've ever laid my hands on. I strongly suggest if you ever get a chance, to enjoy every minute of it.

Re:Is it illegal yet? (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134383)

I can't speak for the UK, but it is absolutely illegal in the US. I'd go as far as say it's one of the most illegal things you could do with radio, in that it's about the most egregious use of deliberate "harmful interference" around. It would be illegal if they were trying to block Joe Frank's Tree Service walkie-talkies, but GPS is very highly used, very highly depended on, and not only governmental but military. Anybody doing serious GPS jamming effective over a few miles would be found in an hour - probably less. Seriously, the military invented it to know where they were. Planes use it to land (not without fallbacks...). I wouldn't screw around with it if I were trying to stay quiet, because you'll get a lot of guys that are a lot smarter and a lot more serious than the local PD on your tail in a hurry.

OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries lately? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134359)

You call the users of GPS jammers "criminals." While they might be, then so are people speeding. They could very well be people who hate being tracked by their government.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134381)

or by corporations

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134799)

or by corporations

To be more specific: journos?

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134397)

tracked by their government.

This story is about the UK, where government GPS tracking has not been sanctioned yet AFAIK.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (4, Insightful)

Feefers (985994) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134807)

Besides we don't need GPS, we can use the vast CCTV network to track you far better.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134413)

Jamming GPS isn't going to prevent you from being tracked by the government, unless you're so paranoid you believe the government has a GPS tracking device on your car.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134657)

How about an ex or some other person who might spy on you?

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134417)

What are you getting at exactly? Jamming GPS signals is illegal. A criminal is somebody who engages in illegal activities, so it follows that "users" of jamming systems are criminals.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (5, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134465)

Paranoid much?

In any case, the entire reason we have the FCC is precisely because you don't get to decide how other people use radio. You're not allowed to jam GPS because you don't like it. That would be like shooting down a plane because it flew over your house.

Sure, if you wanted to jam GPS for a 20 foot radius, people probably won't notice. But GPS is a global system of great importance - planes can use it to navigate, not to mention millions of people just trying to make it to their relatives' houses, or find the nearest pizza place. Not to mention, it's military. They'd have something to say about your "I'll block GPS!" plan, I'm sure.

But let's accept the premise. Let's say for the benefit of the doubt that you didn't know the sorts of things GPS is actually used for. Can I jam the police frequency so they can't operate near my house? "Fuck da police" doesn't count. How about the fire department? ATC communications? Hospital pagers? WiFi? The local radio station while it's airing Rush Limbaugh, because I don't like him?

Most radio is licensed, including GPS. You have to abide by rules to use a licensed service, but it grants you protection from interference. You as an individual don't get to decide that this particular licensed service can just be interfered with because it pisses you off.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (3, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134593)

Paranoid much?

In any case, the entire reason we have the FCC is precisely because you don't get to decide how other people use radio.

The FCC has less power in the UK than you seem to think.

You're not allowed to jam GPS because you don't like it.

Did you notice that the summary referred to illegal GPS jamming?

Not to mention, it's military.

But not UK military. I doubt the DoD will be interested unless they're planning to invade the UK.

Most radio is licensed, including GPS.

That's arguable, actually. And because it's such low power, harmonics and spurious emissions from high powered transmitters that are entirely within legal limits can jam GPS -- there have been problems reported from TV transmitters, for instance.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135617)

Jamming GPS is not like shooting down a plane. Planes have people on board (usually) and financial value which is destroyed in the crash. The GPS is a military installation that beams radio waves from space, so jamming it does not damage it, not kill any pilots or passengers.

Re:OT: What's with all the hyperbol summaries late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135313)

Anti GPS jamming laws have exclusionary clauses for people wanting to avoid governmental tracking? Of course not - people are criminals because the law says so. Doesn't make it just, and certainly does not support the claim to hyperbole.

Misleading Article (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134379)

It's not criminals blocking GPS it's blokes in trucks that don't want their bosses to know where they are and how fast they are going.

Most UK fleets operate GPS tracking so they can schedule deliveries/keep tabs on driver behaviour, jamming the GPS allows that truck driver to exceed the speed limits, take unscheduled breaks, drive for longer periods of time and generally do things without his bosses knowing about it. In cab tachographs can be tampered with, GPS tracking done remotely cannot so the solution for them is to block the GPs signal.

Yes it's illegal to interfere with GPS but we are not talking about hardened criminals here, what purpose would jamming a GPS network in a range of 200 yards around your vehicle serve ?

Re:Misleading Article (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134715)

Yes it's illegal to interfere with GPS but we are not talking about hardened criminals here, what purpose would jamming a GPS network in a range of 200 yards around your vehicle serve ?

Stealing and hiding a car with a GPS-based tracking device in it long enough for you to find and remove said device.

Re:Misleading Article (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134849)

Usual solution to that is to drive it into a shipping container and strip the tracker out in that.

Re:Misleading Article (5, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134783)

what purpose would jamming a GPS network in a range of 200 yards around your vehicle serve

Part of me thinks the enforcement of this is a prelude to the coming age where our vehicle positions are all tracked ; that isn't tinfoil hat territory, it's a serious proposition that has been raised by the government of the UK amongst others in Europe. I'm firmly convinced that this is one of the major justifications for the new Galileo navigation satellite constellation - it's been designed to work much better in the kind of convoluted urban environment common in European cities.

The legislative justification is "road pricing" - the idea being ostensibly to reduce congestion on busy roads at rush hour by charging higher tolls for them, all enforced by an on-board GPS / Galileo datalogger with a cellular modem. Since a back-of-the-napkin calculation can tell you that it's an order of magnitude cheaper to toll roads by mandating active RFID tags in license plates, Occam's Razor says that road pricing is not the real aim of fitting every vehicle with a tracking device.

Quite apart from the current reasons for enforcing a ban on GPS jammers (interference with airport GPS equipment, etc), they have a vested interest in not letting these devices become common enough to render them effectively impossible to police.

Re:Misleading Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135087)

actually they originally wanted rfid in plates but the roadside infrastructure was so expensive/intrusinve (remember european cites have narrower streets on average and move historic viewpoints than the US) so they decided GPS was a cheaper alternative

Missing comment in article (2)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134405)

The obvious missing part of the article is that anyone who uses GPS as their sole method of navigation is an idiot (I hope that no ship would reply solely on GPS, as the article seems to imply they may.)

(Of course some people do reply to much on it: and end up driving down tail tracks and into rivers.)

I've probably had this happen to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134451)

While I was in vacation in Bulgaria a couple of years ago I was astounded to see that my GPS unit claimed that I was moving at 200 km/h while we were basically at rest on a tourist boat on the sea. This condition persisted, on and off, for several minutes. I've never had this kind of thing happen with this GPS receiver (a Garmin eTrex Venture) either before or after. My guess is that a GPS spoofer of some kind was involved, but I have no way of proving this...

Re:Trucker disrupts air control tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135307)

Then you have a poorly designed, poorly executed GPS based landing system. However, I'm sure it met its most critical goal--that of being immensely profitable to a contractor somewhere.

In keeping with the 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' theory, the FAA is just salivating at the thought of turning off ground-based navigation and landing aids. I always wonder--in a (contrived) 'national emergency' it would be pretty easy to shut down the GPS system and there isn't a lot anybody could do about it even with overwhelming numbers. It wouldn't be so easy to shut down ALL of the ground-based navaids and keep them off in the face of citizens who didn't want it that way. Remote control systems to devices in remote areas can always be disabled, for instance.

The chief problem with such things is coverage: we never really built enough of them in the first place, and they do have operating quirks that require training and experience to deal with. Of course, people knowledgeable in how things work are just poison to police states.

We still have a good number of people who know how to maintain ground based systems, but of course building one's own network of GPS satellites is problematic to say the least.

Time to go get the tinfoil hat, I suppose...

Re:Trucker disrupts air control tower (2)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135447)

This is why other spacefaring powers are creating their own versions of GPS - eg. Europeans with Galileo. So if the US DoD does turn off/encrypt the NavStar constellation they can still access their own systems, and others are enhancing LORAN-C

GLONASS (2)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134647)

The Russian GLONASS [wikipedia.org] system uses a different frequency from GPS (around 1.602 GHz for GLONASS, 1.57542 and 1.2276 GHz for GPS). It might be that GLONASS signals would be unaffected by a GPS jammer, although I can't imaging that it would be much of a stretch to make a GPS jammer work for GLONASS as well. The forthcoming European Galileo system uses different frequencies again [gpsworld.com].

GLONASS is interesting because harware support for GLONASS positioning has been in some smartphones since 2011, and it will become very mainstream this year. I would also expect to see personal navigation tools supporting GLONASS as well as GPS this year. More satellites means a better fix, and it isn't very expensive to do.

So, in the future your vehicle tracking might use a combination of GLONASS, Galileo and GPS using a much broader frequency range than just GPS alone.

Re:GLONASS (4, Informative)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135509)

GLONASS is different from GPS in more than just frequency - each satellite has its own specific frequency.

One of the advantages to this over GPS is that atmospheric disturbances are much easier to cancel out. Might make it harder to jam as well, as you'd need a broader spectrum, but I don't know.

One disadvantage is, of course, that your receivers have to be able to pick up multiple frequencies.

odd approach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134773)

Surely if they want to stop this kind of thing.. they could start with stopping people from selling them.
http://www.jammer4u.co.uk/car-gps-jammer-c-1.html

No Jammers ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134827)

... just LightSquared doing 4G tests ... and of course it's all the manufacturers' fault ...

Complete reliance on GPS is wrong (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39134891)

FTA: "Our modern society is almost completely reliant on GPS," Humphreys told the conference. "It could be deadly."

Well sorry I'm but it shouldn't be. Any critical systems should have backup systems such as using cellphone towers to triangulate or LORAN or even just plain old maps. Any society which puts all its eggs into a basket that can easily be knocked over is just asking for trouble.

Lower bus fare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134911)

In the Netherlands, the bus fare is calculated by the distance travelled. If you yam the GPS signal on the bus you'll only have to pay the EUR 0.79 base rate, no mather how long your yourney is.

And another great advantage: The government can't track your location when you use public transportation.

Slight disadvantage: The bus driver might get lost.

oh look, it's the hypocritical money-wasting gov (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39134977)

(1) "The Sentinel Project" will have been the result of some bureaucrat with government money to "allocate" having an interest in Chronos Technology;

(2) The Soviets were estimated to spend about $500 million (adjusted) annually on HF jamming. The UK jams HF by allowing the ex-nationalised main communications provider to sell powerline Ethernet devices which turn mains wiring into an antenna and plough noise into the spectrum. As far as I'm concerned, while the government jams the people's services, it's fair game for the people to jam the government's;

(3) Any critical system which relies on a GPS signal is dangerously flawed. No matter how much you outlaw them, another GPS jammer is one amateur radio enthusiast away from being built;

(4) A tenner says that some form of obligatory GPS tracking for cars will be introduced in the near future. Installing journey recording black boxes is already prerequisite for many car insurance vendors.

Secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135023)

So the Secret Network* is errr ever so slightly less secret now? Unless this is a cunning double bluff of course. *Scare caps, patent pending.

Time Well Spent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39135225)

Here's a more in-depth article on this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17119768
Where the project leader said "We believe there's between 50 and 450 occurrences in the UK every day".
This might sound bad as that's thousands in a week! So how come our Satnavs still work?

That's because it means that by their estimates, there are only at most 450 people in the whole country using the jammers; and seeing as most people make a journey, then make a return journey later, that figure may be half that.

So is this really as bad as they make out?
"In one location the Sentinel study recorded more than 60 GPS jamming incidents in six months."
That's only 10 a month in a blackspot, and as that's only twice a week - it means there's probably only one person on that stretch of road using a jammer.

The article also says "the project received £1.5m funding", and has so far only caught one person.

Nice to know the money's being put to good use.

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